On Nov. 21st, Concord Records will release the ‘Babel’ soundtrack – a double disc set that will include songs from Earth, Wind & Fire, Nortec Collective, Ryuichi Sakamoto and other internationally respected artists. The soundtrack was produced by Alejandro González Iñárritu, and features a score by Gustavo Santaolalla.
Babel, the last film by Alejandro González Iñárritu that completes his trilogy which began with Amores Perros and 21 Grams, weaves together three compelling stories united by something stronger than fate. In the remote sands of the Moroccan desert, a rifle shot rings out – detonating a chain of events that will link an American tourist couple’s (Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett) frantic struggle to survive, two Moroccan boys involved in an accidental crime, a nanny (Adriana Barraza) illegally crossing into Mexico with two American children and a deaf Japanese teen rebel (Rinko Kikuchi) whose father (Koji Yakusho) is sought by the police in Tokyo.
Separated by clashing cultures and sprawling distances, each of these four disparate groups of people are nevertheless hurtling towards a shared destiny of isolation and grief. In the course of just a few days, they will each face the dizzying sensation of becoming profoundly lost – lost in the desert, lost to the world, lost to themselves – as they are pushed to the farthest edges of confusion and fear as well as to the very depths of connection and love.
The soundtrack Iñárritu assembled for Babel is as magical as the movie itself. “My films are symphonies,” the director explains. “I listen to and accumulate music that will be an inspiration during the writing of the script, pre-production, filming and editing. I assimilate the music and create scenes that have a pulse and internal rhythm.”
Iñárritu makes mix CDs for the cast and crew so they can “synchronize” themselves to the work. The music on these CDs isn’t only the soundtrack to the film, but the soundtrack of the whole creative process, from inception to final cut.
“The first thing that I did in film was a score to a short film 23 years ago,” the director says, “and since Amores Perros, which was our first feature together, having had the opportunity to work with Gustavo Santaolalla has been a blessing and a privilege, and the best part in the process of making this film. He’s a genius.”
Gustavo Santaolalla, who wrote the score for Babel, won the 2005 Academy Award for Best Score for Brokeback Mountain, which sold 165,000 copies in the U.S. alone. He also composed the score for Iñárritu’s Amores Perros and 21 Grams, as well as Niki Caro’s North Country.
To give his music for Babel an authentic Middle Eastern feel, Santaolalla taught himself to play the oud, an Arab lute with a distinct, percussive sound. His work for the soundtrack album includes solo oud meditations, folkloric recordings of the Gnawa brotherhoods of Morocco and orchestrated pieces that combine electronic percussion with the sounds of classical Arab music.
A global story needed a global soundtrack, but Iñárritu didn’t want a hodge podge of folk music or songs that sounded like incidental music for a National Geographic special. Iñárritu, Santaolalla, Anibal Kerpel (Composer and Music Editor) and Lynn Fainchtein (Music Supervisor) locked themselves up in a recording studio both in Marrakech and Tijuana, where they listened to and recorded the music of the Gnawa and other traditional Arab musicians in Morocco, and delved into various Norteño sounds in Tijuana.
In Japan, musician, producer and DJ Shinichi Osawa and musician, producer Cornelius guided Iñárritu and his collaborators through the sights and sounds of Tokyo at night. The resulting soundtrack takes us on a journey with no beginning or end, with music that illuminates the film as well as the creative process behind it.
“Gustavo found the musical and spiritual DNA of the film playing the oud with his sensitive fingertips, producing the mesmerizing sounds of the scored tracks in these CDs,” Iñárritu says. “I hope when you listen you can feel the distant winds of the planet caressing your skin.”
Santaolalla’s evocative score for Babel is complimented by tracks from some of the best-known artists in the world of Japanese, Tex-Mex and North African music.